When selected as the preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year, the voters could not have been more right about Hannah Brandt. The 2012 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award winner is proving to be what the Golden Gophers need in the hopes of repeating as NCAA Frozen Four champs. Clearly, the future of USA Hockey, Brandt did not disappoint in her first three NCAA games.
On September 28, 2012, Brandt made her NCAA debut in a contest versus the Colgate Raiders. At the 8:46 mark of the first period, Brandt would score her first career NCAA goal. She would bury a shot past Raiders goalie Susan Allen on a Gophers power play.
In the second period, Brandt would score two more goals, registering a natural hat trick in the process. Possibly the most remarkable stat of the game was that Brandt won 21 out of 30 faceoffs. The Gophers would go on to win by a 7-0 tally, with Brandt being recognized as the game’s first star.
The following day found Brandt and the Golden Gophers playing the Raiders at Ridder Arena. The 633 fans in attendance were treated to an outstanding performance. Brandt was involved in six of the 11 goals that the Gophers scored.
In the first period alone, she factored in on three goals. She would earn an assist on the first goal of the game, a power-play goal by Amanda Kessel. Rachel Bona and Maryanne Menefee would assist on Brandt’s first goal of the game, an even-strength marker to the give the Gophers a 2-0 lead. Bona and Menefee would team up again to assist on Brandt’s second marker of the game. The end of the first period saw the Gophers take a convincing 4-0 lead.
Another power-play goal by Amanda Kessel (in the second period) found Brandt back on the score sheet with her second assist of the game. The next goal of the game found Brandt and Kessel setting up Menefee to give the Gophers a 6-0 lead over the humbled Raiders.
In the game’s final stanza, Brandt would log her sixth and final point, an assist on Jordyn Burns' even-strength goal. For the second consecutive game, Brandt was recognized as the first star, as the Golden Gophers defeated Colgate by an 11-0 score.
An October 5 match versus WCHA opponent St. Cloud State saw Brandt provide more offensive punch. The first period saw Brandt assist on a power-play goal by Amanda Kessel. In the second stanza, Brandt would score as the Gophers enjoyed a 4-0 lead over the St. Cloud State Huskies. Brandt and Kessel would then assist on a goal scored by Megan Bozek on the power play. Brandt would contribute to the lone point scored in the third period, as she assisted on another goal scored by the amazing Amanda Kessel.
In only three games, Brandt has transformed the Gophers' power play into the most feared special teams unit in the NCAA. She is definitely having a positive effect on teammates such as Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek.
While Kessel had a career year during the 2011-12 campaign with 80 points in 41 games, her 10 points in three games would put her on pace to shatter the 100-point mark. Megan Bozek enjoyed 42 points during the 2011-12 season. With two goals and six assists to start the 2012-13 season, she would join Kessel in the 100-point club.
While it may not be easy to maintain this hot scoring pace throughout the season, one cannot help but believe that Brandt is the real deal. Although Meghan Agosta is the all-time NCAA leading scorer with 303 points, Jennifer Botterill accumulated 340 career points with Harvard (although two of her seasons with Harvard were before the NCAA Frozen Four existed). If anyone can eclipse Agosta's and Botterill's marks, Brandt just may be the one to make it happen.